Wednesday, July 04, 2007

FlexiSpy - software that spies on people via their smart phone


There is already a lot of "buzz" that mobile phones, especially those of the smarter variety, will be targeted for their "information value."

A product called "FlexiSPY" is being legally sold, which allows anyone (with the money to buy it) to invade the privacy of someone, who uses a smart phone.

Here is FlexiSPY's marketing pitch (from their site):

Catch cheating wives or cheating husbands, stop employee espionage, protect children, make automatic backups, bug meetings rooms etc.
If FlexiSPY is installed on a smart phone, it downloads data to their server 4 times a day, which can be accessed via the Internet by anyone paying for their service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The FlexiSPY site blasts F-Secure, a security vendor, for calling their software a trojan, and claims FlexiSPY will not answer their e-mails. This is probably because F-Secure was the first one to question this software and it's potential abuse factor. The site claims F-Secure's true intent is to sell their own software, which can remove FlexiSPY.

This is partially true, billions are made in the spy versus spy (white-hat versus black-hat) world of computer security. Although, in all fairness, F-Secure isn't the only on record that is worried about the use of FlexiSPY's spyware.

According to FlexiSPY, their software IS NOT a trojan because it has to be loaded on a telephone by a human being, and the software doesn't replicate itself.

I wonder how long it will be before a hacker figures out how to drop the software remotely? Of course, it also makes sense that FlexiSPY wouldn't want someone to be able to replicate their software. Replicated software doesn't make them any money.

I'll leave it to the reader's imagination how a product like this could be used by criminals, spies, or stalkers.

It never ceases to amaze me how some of these products are sold right over the Internet to ANYONE! It gives credence to the old saying, "there ought to be a law."

FlexiSPY even lists several electronic publications on their site as "talking about them." I decided to see what a few of them (besides F-Secure) had to say.

Gizmodo states:
The software allows a sickening amount of privacy invading features.

Endgaget states:

While FlexiSPY is designed to install itself invisibly, it's now been officially categorized as a trojan (which, face it, it really is) and has been added to F-Secure's virus database.

And the Register states:

A piece of software which allows a user to track another person's mobile phone use would be almost impossible to use in the UK without breaking the law, according to a surveillance law expert.

If fact, using this software could be illegal and subject to penalties in most of the civilized world. Most of these countries would require some sort of court order, even if this technology were to be used by law enforcement.

Gizmodo story, here.

Engadget story, here.

Register story, here.

FlexiSPY acknowledges the same concern that the surveillance law expert brings up in the Register article about them:
It is the responsibility of the user of FlexiSPY to ascertain, and obey, all applicable laws in their country in regard to the use of FlexiSPY for "sneaky purposes". If you are in doubt, consult your local attorney before using FlexiSPY. By downloading and installing FlexiSPY, you represent that FlexiSPY will be used in only a lawful manner. Logging other people's SMS messages & other phone activity or installing FlexiSPY on another person's phone without their knowledge can be considered as an illegal activity in your country. Vervata assumes no liability and is not responsible for any misuse or damage caused by our FlexiSPY. It's final user's responsibility to obey all laws in their country. By purchasing & downloading FlexiSPY, you hereby agree to the above.

I guess the old latin saying "caveat emptor" (buyer beware) applies in this instance!

7 comments:

Tom Fragala said...

Great article Ed. I had not heard of this software before.

I can't see the US or any state outlawing software like this. Using it might already violate some privacy laws, or lawmakers could expand privacy laws to include this type of snooping. But to ban a category of software would be problematic--the potential for writing a law that is too broad or misinterpreted could have unforseen negative results (like outlawing legitimate software tools).

However, laws were passed to stop caller ID spoofing, but I think that's a different animal.

Anonymous said...

This could be used by parents trying to keep tabs on their teenagers lives. Takes snooping through their bedroom to a whole new level.

Anonymous said...

I got suckered into buying this flexispy. Boy, it was too good to be true. Such a scam. I never even received the download. Don't buy flexispy. Just do the old fashion way of spying.

Anonymous said...

well, i thought i was being spyed on through my phone, and i found out that my GF did install some app to get my messages. I found these guys to help me find it: http://www.idftaskforce.com
it sucks to find out that someone you love spies on you

Anonymous said...

First of all I use this to monitor my kid.
Last year I paid $349 USD for Flexispy PROX for Iphone because they promised it had so many features and things, After I installed it I noticed some of the features didn’t work well so I contacted tech support to see what it could be done, then they explained that some features did not work well on iphone but that they were working on it to make it perfect. I believed them and took the $349 USD hit and was willing to wait.
Time past and nothing was better, then when I wanted to check my reports online their server were down and I was not able to check the information collected by the phone, days and days past without me being able to see my records so I contacted tech support to see what was going on because I had paid a lot of money for the software and it was not working at all. They explained me that they were upgrading servers and that in some more days it would be fixed but nothing, SO I complaint again and ask them to extend my subscription for the time it was not working, they gave me an excuse (our server don't allow us to extend the subscriptions but I can offer you a 5-10% discount for your next subscription) and I accepted it.
2 months ago I asked how to get the 5-10% discount I was offered because my subscription was about to expire and they told me I had to pay in full and then I would receive the refund for the discount.

Funny that now I pay in full $349 USD for my new subscription and now they have a new excuse (our servers don't allow us to do partial refunds, we are sorry but we can't offer you that any more, Either you keep the subscription or we issue you a full refund but within 10 days)
I will never ever do business with this thieves anymore, there are other solutions similar to this software, just look on Google.
I am keeping it because I have no other choice as I can’t get the target phone any time soon and they said it has to be within 10 days. Thieves all the way!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

First of all I use this to monitor my kid.
Last year I paid $349 USD for Flexispy PROX for Iphone because they promised it had so many features and things, After I installed it I noticed some of the features didn’t work well so I contacted tech support to see what it could be done, then they explained that some features did not work well on iphone but that they were working on it to make it perfect. I believed them and took the $349 USD hit and was willing to wait.
Time past and nothing was better, then when I wanted to check my reports online their server were down and I was not able to check the information collected by the phone, days and days past without me being able to see my records so I contacted tech support to see what was going on because I had paid a lot of money for the software and it was not working at all. They explained me that they were upgrading servers and that in some more days it would be fixed but nothing, SO I complaint again and ask them to extend my subscription for the time it was not working, they gave me an excuse (our server don't allow us to extend the subscriptions but I can offer you a 5-10% discount for your next subscription) and I accepted it.
2 months ago I asked how to get the 5-10% discount I was offered because my subscription was about to expire and they told me I had to pay in full and then I would receive the refund for the discount.

Funny that now I pay in full $349 USD for my new subscription and now they have a new excuse (our servers don't allow us to do partial refunds, we are sorry but we can't offer you that any more, Either you keep the subscription or we issue you a full refund but within 10 days)
I will never ever do business with this thieves anymore, there are other solutions similar to this software, just look on Google.
I am keeping it because I have no other choice as I can’t get the target phone any time soon and they said it has to be within 10 days. Thieves all the way!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Last year I paid $349 USD for Flexispy PROX for Iphone because they promised it had so many features and things, After I installed it I noticed some of the features didn’t work well so I contacted tech support to see what it could be done, then they explained that some features did not work well on iphone but that they were working on it to make it perfect. I believed them and took the $349 USD hit and was willing to wait.
Time past and nothing was better, then when I wanted to check my reports online their server were down and I was not able to check the information collected by the phone, days and days past without me being able to see my records so I contacted tech support to see what was going on because I had paid a lot of money for the software and it was not working at all. They explained me that they were upgrading servers and that in some more days it would be fixed but nothing, SO I complaint again and ask them to extend my subscription for the time it was not working, they gave me an excuse (our server don't allow us to extend the subscriptions but I can offer you a 5-10% discount for your next subscription) and I accepted it.
2 months ago I asked how to get the 5-10% discount I was offered because my subscription was about to expire and they told me I had to pay in full and then I would receive the refund for the discount.

Funny that now I pay in full $349 USD for my new subscription and now they have a new excuse (our servers don't allow us to do partial refunds, we are sorry but we can't offer you that any more, Either you keep the subscription or we issue you a full refund but within 10 days)
I will never ever do business with this thieves anymore, there are other solutions similar to this software, just look on Google.
I am keeping it because I have no other choice as I can’t get the target phone any time soon and they said it has to be within 10 days. Thieves all the way!!!!!!!!!!!